The Snapped Project
I'm looking for families and individuals who'd like to learn about one of the most powerful and underrated coping strategies - photography.
The Snapped Project introduces exceptional families and individuals to basic photography techniques and skills and encourages photography as a way to cope with the tangle of emotions that come with living with invisible loss, such as chronic illness, medical hardship, and special needs.
Who should participate?
I'd like to mentor caregivers, patients, and family members of any age who are able to operate a camera (a camera phone or point-and-shoot counts) and participate in the group. Parent or guardian permission and support is required for minor participation. Hospital inpatients and care facility residents are warmly welcomed.
The ideal participant hasn't made time for the things she enjoys (fellas are welcome, too - I'm just simplifying the language) because her life is full of commitments and constraints related to invisible loss. She is the person who looks perfectly normal standing in line at the grocery store and yet feels as though she may come apart any moment. She needs a safe, compassionate, empathetic space in which to say how she is feeling and doesn't see that in her life because her life is not relatable to any of her family or friends.
Participants will need access to a device that will allow them to share their pictures in a private Facebook group. Film photographers are welcome provided they are able to scan their photos.
What is the commitment?
I ask for one hour each week to learn, shoot, share, and comment. Each week I'll present a basic element of photography and provide a prompt. Participants will create photo essays that illustrate how they see the prompt and share them in a private Facebook group. I encourage participants to talk with others in the group about their experiences and how their pictures came about.
Participants can leave at any time and there is no expectation that they complete each lesson and prompt within a certain time or in order. I intend to provide prompts and lessons for 12 weeks.
Every four weeks I'll ask for casual feedback about the experience. This information is valuable to me in improving this project and helping more families.
I request that participants grant me permission to share select photographs, stories, and feedback with my peers and mentors in order to increase support for this work. I can share anonymously (e.g., select pictures with no identifying images, change names) and will work with participants on an agreement that feels safe. Participants who do not grant permission remain welcome in the group.
What are the benefits?
1. Free lessons in photography and feedback on shared pictures
2. A safe, supportive environment to express frustration, anxiety, grief, resentment, joy, rage, gratitude, and any other emotion
3. A new way of looking at the world
4. A visual story of difficult milestones
5. The opportunity to control images in an environment that may feel out-of-control
How does it work?
I'll send invitations to join the Facebook group September 6-9, 2016. The project begins Monday, September 12, 2016.
Participants will introduce themselves, review the week's lesson, and post their prompted pictures as they are able. A panel of professional photographers with invisible loss experience will review the images and provide positive and encouraging feedback that will help participants tell their stories better the next week. Most importantly, participants will encourage and inspire each other through their stories, allowing a safe place for each person to sit with complicated emotions.
Why are you doing this?
As a photographer I have witnessed the lives of dozens of families for whom the hospital is a second home. Families who relocated to be close to a hospital with expertise in the care they need. Families to rearranged their lives at home and work to care for a loved one. These families are different, and the support network for them is usually very thin.
My family is one of these families. I want to share with others what has helped me process so many of my emotional tangles. Photography is a silent scream for me. I can say things in pictures I do not feel safe saying aloud.
My goal is to develop this concept fully in order to test it in a doctoral thesis in psychology. I am committed to this for the long-term.
I'm ready. How do I start?
Interested participants will submit a short application by Wednesday, August 31, 2016. I am able to support up to 30 participants for this initial group and want to balance the stories of participants for diversity. Applicants who do not join this initial group may have an opportunity to join a future group if they are still interested. The project begins Monday, September 12, 2016.
Thank you for considering this opportunity. I am excited to learn about your story and watch as you tell it.
Keywords: Down syndrome, NICU, autism spectrum, camera, cancer, class, epilepsy, family, grief, lesson, loss, mended little hearts, photography, portrait, teach, the snapped project
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